Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Heaven 17

  • Heaven 17 [Arista, 1982] B+
  • The Luxury Gap [Arista, 1983] B+
  • Higher and Higher: The Best of Heaven 17 [Virgin, 1993] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Heaven 17 [Arista, 1982]
As communiques--in Britain, where this group speaks directly to a general youth public--these cool-to-gnomic commentaries on a modernity in which jobs aren't roles, dreams aren't ideals, and the personal isn't quite the political undoubtedly earn some anthemic aura. As artifacts--in the U.S., where this group is sometimes confused with Duran Duran--they're dance music, albeit with generally thought-provoking hooks. B+

The Luxury Gap [Arista, 1983]
Although their second U.S. album lacks the surface appeal of the debut compilation, it runs deeper, and politics makes the difference--not because their conscience impels them to come up with likable protest novelties like "Fascist Groove Thing" and "Let's All Make a Bomb," but because their compassion induces them to explore a subject to which they have privileged access. Nowhere else in music or sociology will you learn so much about the would-be hedonists who live the technopop/Anglodisco life. Obsessed with an upward mobility that fails to produce the advertised highs, their protagonists suffer the weariness known only to those who habitually overtax their wills. And Glen Gregory's cultivated, well-meaning vocals combine concerned observation with hard experience just soulfully enough. B+

Higher and Higher: The Best of Heaven 17 [Virgin, 1993]
pet shop godfathers ("I'm Your Money," "We Live So Fast") *